Reviews by L. J. Roberts

WILLIAM G. TAPPLY – Follow the Sharks. Charles Scribners Sons, hardcover, 1985. Reprint paperbacks: Ballantine, 1986, 1992.

Genre:   Licensed investigator. Leading character:   Attorney Brady Coyne, 3rd in series. Setting:   Boston.

WILLIAM TAPPLY Follow the Sharks

First Sentence:   Sylvie Szabo normally speaks with the careful diction and precise grammar of one whose English is a second language, but when she’s a little sleepy or drunk or wants to tease, her speech tends to betray her Slavic origins.

   At the bequest of a friend, attorney Brady Coyne becomes the agent for young baseball pitcher Eddie Donogan. Although his career starts with great promise, over time his pitching falls apart.

   Eddie not only quits baseball, but walks away from his wife and their young son, E. J. Now, twelve years later, Brady receives a call that E. J. has been kidnapped and the family wants his help.

   You don’t need to be a fan of baseball to like this book, even though it does include one of the most loving and reverential descriptions of the game I’ve ever read.

   But it’s that level of description of all aspects that makes Tapply such a pleasure to read. He pays such wonderful attention to the details in providing time, place and atmosphere: “The sky along the horizon was turning from black to purple…”

   With that, you know exactly the point in the day to which he is referring. Tapply brings the same life to his characters. Brady is one of my favorite protagonists as he is a true “good guy,” which is so refreshing. He doesn’t automatically go to bed with the attractive woman, he plays by the rules while protecting his clients, he likes classical music and classic jazz and misses his children.

   Even with the secondary characters, there is not only the physical description, but that sense of who they are. As with other books I’ve read recently, it is interesting to read a book set within the past 25 years and to realize how much has changed within that short period of time in terms of technology and social behavior.

   Even so, the story did not feel dated to me at all, as plot is very well constructed. Although, the events take place over a period of time, there is still plenty of action and suspense with a very effective first-person voice.

   The thing to which I keep coming back is that Tapply makes it feel real. He passed away in 2009, and I personally should hate to see his work overlooked or forgotten. I am greatly enjoying reading his series in order, and I highly recommend this book.

Rating: Very Good.

Editorial Comment:   A short obituary for Mr. Tapply was posted here on this blog last August. It includes a full bibliography with many cover images. I met him once, and we exchanged emails a few times. He was one of the good guys in mystery fiction, and I echo LJ’s hope that his work won’t be forgotten too soon.